text: Helena Torstensson
Swallow the Sun is a death, doom metal band from Finland that was formed in 2000 by Juha Raivio. Soon he was joined by Pasi Pasanen. In 2001 Markus Jämsen, Mikko Kotamäki, Aleksi Munter and Matti Honkonen joined the band. In 2002 they started arranging songs for their demo. The first demo ‘Out of this Gloomy Light’ was recorded in January 2003, and their first record deal with Firebox Records.
Their debut album ‘The Morning Never Came’ was out in the Autumn of 2003. After that world wide success came pretty fast, touring around the globe. A change in the line-up came in 2009 when Kai Hahto joined the band to fill the void by former drummer Pasi Pasanen. ‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’ is the band’s fifth album.
The first song and title track: “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird” opens slowly, but brings pretty soon rougher elements. That creates a special atmosphere. It’s interesting to hear the way music and vocals are keeping perfect pace together. In a way it creates something that I find poetic. This song is almost ten minutes long. It’s a pleasure to sit back, with closed eyes, and drift away by the music.
One of the songs that made a lingering impression on me is “This Cut is the Deepest.” A part of it’s charm is; it stays simple yet so very moving. It begins with easy and good sounding guitars. That together with Mikko Kotamäki’s vocals really manages to bring such a melancholic and special feeling. Strong lyrics and melody create something more. It is hard to translate all my feelings in words regarding this one.
The first single from the album is “Cathedral Walls.” It features Anette Olzon from Nightwish. I would call it ‘a ballad with a bite’. Frontman Mikko is telling the story with soft sounding vocals, carried by a slow melody that caress you ears. He is soon followed by Anette as she temporary takes hold of the microphone. The mix of vocals fits beautifully. In the middle of the song Mikko’s voice changes, grows roughly and the music changes too: a dark and intense atmosphere. It is interesting to hear Anette’s light voice again followed by a very balanced instrumental ending.
‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’ is my first encounter with Swallow the Sun. These songs contains impressive music and strong lyrics. It is amazing the way Mikko Kotamäki manages to change his vocals during the songs. Moving quite easily from a clear sound to a rougher side, and almost growling ones. The haunting guitar melodies mixed with, what I would call, folkloric elements builds up the dark and mystic atmosphere. Swallow the Sun is a master in creating charming songs. It rises expectations after every minute: an outstanding album for sure!
1. Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
2. This Cut is the Deepest
3. Hate, Lead the Way
4. Cathedral Walls (feat. Anette Olzon)
5. Hearts Wide Shut
6. Silent Towers
7. Labyrinth of London (Horror PT. IV)
8. Of Death and Corruption
9. April 14th
10. Night will Forgive Us
Mikko Kotamäki – vocals
Juha Raivio – guitars
Markus Jämsen – guitars
Aleksi Munter – keyboards
Matti Honkonen – bass
Kai Hahto – drums
Finnish progressive – death metal band Barren Earth has posted a video update on their official Facebook. A short interview with Sami Yli-Sirniö (guitar) and Kasper Mårtenson (keyboards).
A story about the upcoming tour in February and holiday greetings. Their debut album ‘Curse Of The Red River‘ is released on Peaceville records in 2010.
Bandpackage of the February tour in America is: Finntroll, Rotten Sound, Barren Earth and Ensiferum.
Tourdates are mentioned in a previous news bulletin of Mussicredo: http://musiccredo.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/barren-earth-vote-finnish-metal-awards/
What do you get when Finnish talented musicians assemble and form a new collective? A new notion on how technical metal becomes more melodic an interesting. Breaking with traditional musical boundaries and discover new paths. Leave that to the Scandinavians: for years they are masters in creating a perfect mixture of different styles. Barren Earth is for those reasons an interesting addiction.
The members are coming from different backgrounds like Swallow the Sun, Amorphis, Moonsorrow and Kreator. There is a risk to deduce that Barren Earth is an average imitation from those bands. Barren Earth has inevitable similarities, but that doesn’t make them predictable. On the contrary ‘Our Twilight’ EP creates high expectations for their début album, expected in 2010.
Song by Song review
The title track ‘Our Twilight’ is a strongly guitar orientated song, very progressive.Impressive team work from guitarists Janne Perttilä and Sami Yli- Sirniö. Both have an own style, but very talented in fast technical parts. From the first second bass player Olli-Pekka forms a strong base together with drummer Marko Tarvonen, having a prominent position in the mix.
The grunts from vocalist Mikko are deep, fitting well in the dark atmosphere.Opeth fans definitely will like that. It breaks open in the refrain when he shows a totally other side: soft clean parts, not very strong but very melodic. A dexterous classical guitar solo halfway the song, is a more catchy part in ‘Our Twilight.’
Each song on this EP has such an own atmosphere and style. Kasper Mårtenson immediately grabs the attention in ‘Jewel.’ When the guitars are taking over the melody, the intro is almost too short. For sure the most progressive and dared song from Barren Earth.
Mikko is not such a strong grunter like death metal vocalists in Morbid Angel or Obituary. But he is dynamic with folk influences like colleagues from Ensiferum. Halfway a very complex murge from keyboards, mixed vocals and technical guitar lines settles under your skin. Mikko’s almost spoken lyrics are changing the atmosphere, again a strong alliance of all those talents.
‘The Flame of Serenity’ is dark, almost doom, but it still breaths. No massive wall of music. High guitar riffs are in strong contradiction with the grunts. Mikko growls lower and lower, again showing a different side of his voice. The technical base is necessary to make the song grow, but it is the melodic guitar changes what holds the attention. The tension is there and when the solo finally comes, it grabs you for sure. Less is more and Barren Earth understands that very well in this production.
‘Floodred’ is absolutely the masterpiece, with more death metal influences. Most remarkable is again the strong drum parts from Mikko, mixed with spoken parts, and a prominent bass guitar. On top the guitarists duo Janne and Sami, almost sounding like one. Progressive is it when Kasper get’s his prominent part on top of the drums.
It is the breaking point of the song. Till then they sounded like one strong metal machine, but now the melody changed and be prepared for an impressive instrumental roller coaster. The unique mixture of styles, are coming to a climax. The melodic piano is taken over by a breathtaking guitar solo from Sami Yli-Sirniö. A talented musician, after you heard this you will never underestimate that or the idea that Barren Earth doesn’t have an own sound. They are creative and talented enough to discover new musical paths.
Barren Earth challenged themselves and the metal scene. They created a masterpiece, earthshaking for every progressive and technical metal fan. With such an entrance, you are certainly not forgotten!
01. Our Twilight
03. Flame Of Serenity
Mikko Kotamäki – Vocals (Swallow The Sun)
Olli-Pekka Laine – Bass (Ex-Amorphis, Mannhai)
Kasper Mårtenson –Keyboards (Ex-Amorphis, Ben Granfelt Band)
Janne Perttilä – Guitar (Rytmihäiriö)
Marko Tarvonen – Drums (Moonsorrow)
Sami Yli- Sirniö – Guitar, backing vocals (Kreator, Waltari)
Official website: http://www.barrenearth.com/v2/index.html
Peaceville page: http://www.peaceville.com/barrenearth/ourtwilight/
copyright text: Silviapd
copyright photo’s: Monica Duffels
Every year Summer Breeze Open Air in Dinkelsbuhl manage to find an outstanding line-up of bands. What means 180 bands in one weekend, unexpected names, rising stars, and unique projects. The best opportunity to find a combination of bands you never see on tour.
Arriving on the Wednesday means that only the Party stage is open, a white tent next to the Main- and Pain stage on the other side. Its a dark mass for now, but in the morning it turns into a musical heaven.
Summer Breeze is located on a hill, and when you look down, you can clearly see how huge the festival ground really is. The camping side covers the whole grade and logistically it is very wise to situate both stages next to each other. So it is easy to switch between the bands. And there is the VIP tent, our second home, in between. That makes surviving a four day festival so much easier.
The organisation wants to promote upcoming artists, and one of them is the opener of the festival on the Mainstage Barren Earth. Finnish masters assemble of respected musicians. There is vocalist Mikko, wellknown from Swallow The Sun, guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö from Kreator, and keyboardist Kasper ex-Amorphis. With Curse Of The Red River they delivered a very strong debut album, what’s very promising for the future. No wonder that it is crowded in the early afternoon with a burning sun on your shoulders.
Full force on opener ‘Curse Of The Red River’ where Mikko impress with his deep aggressive grunts, covering his eyes under his cap. Opeth meets his darker sister today. The sound is not always well balanced, especially during the clean backing vocals from Sami Yli-Sirniö.
Impressive team work from guitarists Janne and Sami on this guitar dominated song, where the ‘screaming’ high tones stays in your head. Both men are meters separated from each other, but there is a strong interaction: they have such an own style, bounding it into a technical adrenaline rising song. Drummer Marko has the flue, but his sound is fast, groovy and very dynamic. Unbelievable how fast he goes, even during his background vocals, impressive.
It is an once-in-a-lifetime moment for many metal fans to hear the songs live in the original formation. Naturally it is important to have a strong united band on stage and Barren Earth retains the attention, making you curious how the set will develop. Impressive when you consider that they rarely play together, caused by the long tours their bands make in the world.
It is a short, powerful set where Barren Earth shows to be a strong adversary to all Finnish bands that day, and even more. ‘Our Twilight’ is the titletrack from the EP. Live on stage it gets an extra dimension, because it is clear that all the members are doing this mostly for the fun and alloy their talent for that reason. Kasper on piano has such a crystal clear sound, and it makes you shiver even on such a hot day. Bassplayer Olli is very vivid on stage, jumping around all the time.
‘ Forlorn Waves’ asks a lot from all the members with technical solo’s, even faster grunts and it must have been energetic process during the writing process. It doesn’t reflect much on the members, they are frozen behind their microphone. Perhaps the stage is too big, although frontman Mikko changes positions with Janne and Olli.
Then ‘ Flicker ‘ is one of the most progressive songs, switching from mid-tempo doomy atmosphere to a heavy groovy part with fast grunts and technical bas, guitar lines. The performance crows during the song, it seems the feedback from the crowd woke them up.
And all the power is there during ‘The Leer’ a more old-school song, dominated by Marko on drums and a strong rhythm section. On top of that a high guitar mixed with the clean vocals from Sami, in contrast of the dark grunts from Mikko.
There is a long instrumental part, where all the solo interactions come together, especially on stage you feel the vibe better and Mikko shows here very well that he is an excellent vocalist. The only remark is the fact that he isn’t such a great performer, because he shows a lack of interest when he smokes a cigarette and turns his back to the crowd.
During the last song ‘ Floodred’ Olli gets the attention, suddenly he surprises the crowd with his clean voice. A catchy ending of a short set, Barren Earth convinces strongly with a dynamic, melodic and technical impressive sound. They definitely have a stronger fan base since that day. T he kick-off from Summer Breeze 2010 is a fact and it was a highlight to see these Finnish musicians on one stage today.
Mikko Kotamäki– Vocals (Swallow The Sun)
Olli-Pekka Laine – Bass (Ex-Amorphis, Mannhai)
Kasper Mårtenson –Keyboards (Ex-Amorphis, Ben Granfelt Band)
Janne Perttilä– Guitar (Rytmihäiriö)
Marko Tarvonen – Drums (Moonsorrow)
Sami Yli- Sirniö – Guitar, backing vocals (Kreator, Waltari)
Napalm Death dominated the metal scene in the eighties with their typical grintcore sound. Vocalist Barny is still standing strong, angry at the world and his raw voice is so unique that you recognize them everywhere. Their power blows away the enthusiastic crowd.
From begin till the end they impress with their wall of music, without getting boring or predictable. Guitarist Mitch is in a good shape today and makes songs like Strong Arm, Deceiver, When All Is Said And Donelive even stronger than on the album. Personally I am happy that Silence Is Deafening is on the setlist as well.
Many well known hits are played, and it is a pleasure to be an eye-witness of this dynamic show, also because Barney is very talkative and creates a good atmosphere. Polite as always with his British accent and it sounds so much better than the screams and aggressive shouting parts from the American bands this weekend. Its totally a different world then, and after more than twenty years it is a fact that this band is going strong with a strong adrenaline and motivation in their bones, lots of respect for that!
An other uptempo band is Ill Nino with their roots in South-America, totally different in compare with other nu-metal artists. It is all about the adrenaline and how fast you can scream ‘ fuck.’ Unbelievable how often vocalist Christian Machado it repeats, till it irritates a lot. Nevertheless the whole Pain Stage is shaking and their sound is perfect.
All elements of a good show are there when they kick off with such a uncontrolled vibe, that only promise an erasing of anger and goorvy metal. Te Amo I Hate You has fast guitars, on top tortured grunts and grows into Corazon Of Mine when the drums transform in a heartbeat. The Latin roots, melodic parts mixed with nu-metal, creates an unique format. When the singers arms start to shake it proves that he screams his longs out, waving with his dreadlocks. There is a lot of emotion in a good way, it brings the energy you need to have a good festival vibe.
Finnish bands dominate the day a bit. Also The 69 Eyes are creating a catching sound, but aren’t progressive at all. They create a dark atmosphere, you also know from HIM. It isn’t a big surprise when he whole first row is filled with screaming girls and I wonder where they came from so sudden. The band has a good reputation, so I was curious to see them live on stage, but somehow they are disappointing me. Maybe its because of the provoked and slow voice from Jurki. He is creating a whole act around him, but I can’t take it very serious when he tries to be a second Elvis. The musicians are for sure very talented, but that is not good enough to impress for a whole hour.
Die Apocalyptischen Reiter is German proud with a reason, always they surprise me how popular they are. The whole field is packed. It’s been a long time since’ ‘ One Cold Winters Night’ ’ in Oberhausen, and today they have a spectacle with their metal meets folk influences. Their show is dynamic and there happens a lot on stage. It is hilarious to see a man sliding down with a big belly and a black mask on. Vocalist Fuchs screams too much, what makes the show indeed aggressive, but you have to like a raw voice on top of it.
There is a lot of interaction with the audience and I must say the crowd is amazing, showing that much energy at the end of a long day. Rammstein meets some German traditional roots and I guess you have to be more open minded than me to see the melodylines and become a real fan. It is a good entertaining moment, but not a musical challenge to me.
An other Finnish metal band Swallow The Sun personally requested to play the Party Tent instead of the bigger main stage, because they want darkness and less light. Expected an intense show what surrounds you like a black blanket, comfortable and scary at the same time.
Opener ‘These Woods Breathe Evil’ drags you down, not into the mud ,but to follow their songs and be open for the special atmosphere. Silouettes are standing there frozen against blue light. There is vocalist Mikko Kotamäki again, this time showing a totally different side of his voice. Still hanging over the microphone and smoking a cigarette with a thoughtless glance in his eyes.
Standing on a row, the band members let the music talks for itself in a way: they are simply standing there and don’t move at all during their intense performance. It suits the music very well, because you stay focussed on the little details. Like a absent smile from Markus Jamsen on guitar, in the corner. Aleksi Munter on keyboards is turning around to the drummer in the back, a moment of interaction.
From the side of the stage it is very impressive to see all those fans in the crowd, a strong mass of people, totally into the performance of five musicians. ‘Don’t Fall Asleep, Sleepless Swans and New Moon’ make the set strong with high guitars suddenly switching from a groovy to a minimalistic rhythm. Whispers are mixed with screams and grunts. Always searching for the contrasts, that is a master talent from these men. Especially the keyboards are a strong element in the doom, dark atmosphere in that combination.
It is impossible to analyse without sounding flat and not giving right to the story. It is about breathing, empathy and being a part of the music. The emotions are filling the whole tent easily, why?
Because Swallow The Sun knows their strength and they are so easy to get into like My Dying Bride on the other day. It is a talent you rarely find among musicians, to open up completely without a huge performance or mask between the one on stage and the crowd. Sadly enough I couldn’t be there during the promotion tour of ‘New Moon’ but they will return in December. To me it was the best band on the whole festival weekend!
Luckily ‘ we’ have Obituary to show the world what perfect death metal means. There is no band going strong for so long and still have a remarkable good reputation. They fulfil the expectations more than you can imagine! There is frontman John Tardy with his long blond hair, growling and screaming in a most melodic way. The whole setlist has a promise of high quality and lot’s of energy. Songs like Evil Ways, The End Complete and of course Slowly We Rot are played in a very uptempo, smooth set and close to perfection. In my opinion even better than on the albums.
The band is touring the world right now, and it is impressive how they find the motivation to give two hundred present today. Impressive, unforgettable and excellent promise for the future!
Subway To Sally comes with a lot of pyros to impress as a headliner on the main stage. Perhaps it is because I am not German, but to me their sound is totally a riddle, and even unbelievable why they are headliner of such a great day. It totally doesn’t fulfil the expectations you have from the last band on the big stage. Their rock from Potsdam is a bit flat, or maybe the impressions of the whole day are filling my head too much. The folk roots are there, and nowadays that combination with metal is very popular. Vocalist Eric Fisch sounds raw and enthusiastic toward the fans, but music wise it is not my cup of tea.
Clapping hands during Puppenspieler from the front till the back is very impressive, and Kleid Aus is a real hit and all the German fans are singing along. The violin from Silke makes it interesting to listen to. The traditional instruments like lute, mandolin, a small barrel-organ are very entertaining and definitely something extra, but the voice is the weakest point.
Behemoth was supposed to close the Pain Stage on this sunny Thursday, but unfortanatly one of their members became serious will. A good replacement is found in Endstille. Both bands have their roots in the old school black metal and created an unique sound over the years. A new record is in the making, but the band choices to have a diversity of songs. With their new vocalist Zingultus they found a well fitting member of the band and it doesn’t take much time to get used to his tortured voice, inclusive all the corpse-paint. Finally the day is over, a long intense festival edition and even more days to follow.
Thankword to: Summer Breeze Organisation, David Silverdust, Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth.